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Dec 14, 2007 07:19 PM

Seattle's Most Touristy, Overrated Restaurants

So, the "Benny Hanna" thread got me thinking. What are Seattle's worst, most overrated, touristy restaurants? Obviously there are chains (i.e., Bennihana's) but let's stay away from that.

Where would you purposefully tell people to avoid going that they would otherwise read about in the guidebooks, Citysearch, etc? Eating at the Space Needle immediately comes to mind.

What else? Go wild. This could be fun and actually useful for a first time visitor. Think of the restaurants and sentiments presented here as words of warning from the wise.


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  1. I always think of The Crab Pot, it seems like a good idea, but it just seemed to miss the mark.

    1. There is none higher (lower) than the Space Needle if we're excluding chains.

      Honorable mentions: Salty's, Ivar's.

      I still have to say that the one place that makes me want to scream with fury every time I pass it (and see it packed with a line out the door) is a chain: The Cheesecake Factory. The inexplicable popularity of that greasepit - within easy waddling distance of a dozen finer local restaurant - fills me with apoplectic rage.

      2 Replies
      1. re: terrier

        I actually enjoy Ivar’s Sunday brunch. I am not the biggest fan of the typical American breakfast (bacon, eggs, toast, etc) and their buffet offering is rather deep.

        1. re: terrier

          The Space Needle isn't overrated. No one says the food is great, but it's decent. You go for the view, and if you enjoy urban views, it's a lot of fun.

        2. Perhaps you might also include a reason as to why your choices are on the list for those of us uninitiated to their particular delights.

          1. Based on only one experience (!), I give you Palisade (or that might be a chain, I never bothered to check).
            Great view..

            2 Replies
            1. re: mrnelso

              Terrier, The people crammed in the Cheescake Factory are just Doppelgangers of the people in P F Chang's. Imagine how Thierry Rautureau must feel when he drives by those Twilight Zones.

            2. But what ARE the places that tourists would read about it guidebooks? It doesn't sound like they are the places people are assuming would be mentioned. I looked at Fodor's online, a guide that I think it fairly shallow and might have bad recommendations, but this is their list:

              Dahlia Lounge
              Hing Loon
              Kwanjai Thai
              Le Pichet
              May Thai
              Ray's Boathouse
              Restaurant Zoë

              Not bad, with some great picks. Frommer's list is too long to paste here but it has Matt's, Rovers, Cascadia, Lampreia, etc. So I think that the restaurants that people will have to argue about as being too touristy and overrated are more along the lines of Dahlia Lounge, not Crab Pot (I think people end up in those bad waterfront places because they are already down there for the Aquarium and the ferries and think it looks good, not because any guidebook is recommending them).

              7 Replies
              1. re: christy319

                Great point. Before I moved to Seattle I relied on guide books for my restaurant choices and was mistakenly left thinking this town didn't offer very good chow. The restaurants I remember trying solely on guidebook reccos were Ray's, Rovers, and Palace Kitchen. All or ok but definitely not the best of Seattle imo. I think it all comes down to marketing, I'm sure these restaurants spend a fair amount on marketing and hiring PR firms to promote themselves and therefore get all the ink and attention. Just like with movies I now always take restaurant reviews I read both good and bad with a grain of salt.

                1. re: landguy

                  rovers is easily one of the top ten in seattle. you should try again.

                  1. re: bighound

                    I did but luckily I had a gift certificate the second time so the meal was covered. I also find it unnecessarily stuffy and overpriced. Le Gourmand is my choice for French chow in Seattle.

                    1. re: landguy

                      My thought after a birthday dinner there some years back was that for the same money we could have flown to New York and eaten at Le Bernardin. I'm serious.

                      1. re: donttrustsnakes

                        You can't be serious. Excuse me for being literal, but Le Bernadin's prix fixe menus are $135-180, without wine. Rover's are $80-130. I will assume that LB is better without ever trying it, based on press and rep alone. But each of the very few meals I had at Rover's was extraordinary-there is nothing else in Seattle like it.

                        1. re: equinoise

                          It was in 2001 when airfares and prices were lower (current base p.f. at Le Bernardin is $107). All in, dinner for two (one tasting menu) with a $45 bottle of wine topped $300. But, fair point even though all I was reporting was my thought at the time. I seriously thought the meal at Le Bernardin would have been cheaper and the overall experience a better value. Also, in a little place like this, on a deserted evening, after a special birthday dinner, one might hope to lay eyes on the chef at some point. That didn't happen.

                2. re: christy319

                  As an annual visitor to the general area, I manage to get into Seattle proper usually once per visit...and oddly enough, the places that I found in guidebooks do tend to be places I have also read about on Chowhound. In fact, on a recent business trip, I went to Dahlia Lounge because of what I read in both places and I discovered Matt's in the Market essentially simultaneously from Chowhound and Citysearch.

                  Now, as for places in the neighborhoods not right near downtown - there guidebooks have not been as helpful.